The consultancy Jonge Honden (Young Dogs) represents the spirit of the Dutch Innovation. Their consultants are bold, lively, ambitious and created a new enterprise framework in the city of Utrecht that empowers their capacity to solve societal challenges. We met Rik van Dijk and he told us a bit of their story and operation.
How was the idea of the collective Jonge Honden created? Is it unique in the NL?
Jonge Honden started with two young people who had just graduated – when they started working, they saw that organizations are full of employees who are stuck in routines and protocols. As young people, they had this fresh energy, new ideas and insight into the most recent models and theories. Here they found some friction: long existing organizations with their own routines vs. young people with a great need for flexibility and new ways of working. So, from this moment Jasper and Gerco created their own young company: the Jonge Honden. The organisation was founded in 2000 and started with 2 people, then 4 and nowadays has around 35 active “jonge honden”. Jonge Honden is unique in its own way since 20 years ago, far before flexible, hybrid organizations, Generation X and Y and Agile became the new status quo.
Tell me about your creative process.
At Jonge Honden, there are two bigger goals: 1) personal development and 2) entrepreneurship. Therefore Jonge Honden doesn’t have bosses and other supervisors. We do everything by ourselves, from acquisition to all the administration, so each Jonge Hond (young dog) learns every facette of the organizational process.
We understand that each person has specific needs and preferences, so we don’t work with standards. He/she needs to be proactive while others will help this person to develop through buddies and mentors – our own ‘Junior Journey’, that encompasses training and so on. Besides that, the Jonge Hond with entrepreneurial ambitions can start his/her own little organization within Jonge Honden, as a collective. In this case, he/she writes a business plan. If it is approved by the other Jonge Honden, he/she becomes an entrepreneur with a couple of colleagues in a new team. There is a lot of benefits in this position, like using the Jonge Honden’s existing network, the experience of others… that is, a big safety net.
In a nutshell, what was the most challenging project so far?
This is hard to say. The Jonge Honden have their own projects for other organizations. We also got a lot of internal projects. So there are too many activities involving different people, what makes it difficult to choose the biggest challenge. Interestingly, when there is a complex project, we can count on one of the 35 Jonge Honden. Combined, we accumulate a lot of knowledge about all kinds of subjects and this helps us to overcome almost all challenges.
How do you see Jong Honden in 10 years?
That’s the fun part! I don’t know, and maybe I don’t want to know. There will be a lot of new young talent, with fresh energy and new ideas. Jonge Honden will develop with all the ambitions of the new people to come. Leaving Jonge Honden as an open playground will ensure that the outcome will be surprising – and that will be a good thing, for sure!
Watch the video (in Dutch)